Different is the New Normal. Wanna be inspired? Read on…
I want to share with you the story of inspirational Chicago-area teen Ariel Small, narrated by Michael J. Fox will make its debut in May. Different is the New Normal premieres on PBS stations from coast-to-coast (check local listings) and airs on WTTW May 21 at 10:00 p.m. – just in time for National Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month. Celebrated American Idol Finalist James Durbin also joins Ariel in the film.
Ariel was born in suburban Chicago, the middle child in a close-knit family of four boys. When he was 6, his concerned parents noticed that Ariel was exhibiting odd facial movements, which he couldn’t seem to control and he was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a neurobiological disorder affecting an estimated 200,000 people in the U.S. alone. One of the disabling aspects of Tourette’s is the tics that disrupt daily function, but Ariel found that another was the constant need to prove that he wasn’t faking his symptoms – especially to his teachers. To help safeguard other children from the hardships he has faced since he was young, Ariel’s laudable mission is to speak out to demystify Tourette’s.
With his permission, Ariel’s mother (and the film’s producer), Robin Small, turned the camera on her son to give viewers an acutely personal, compelling and ultimately uplifting perspective on his emotional journey to overcome the challenges of living with Tourette’s and break through the misconceptions and shame. Ariel’s moving on-camera conversation with James Durbin, whose path led him from brutally-bullied student living with Tourette’s to rock performer with a debut album rising up the charts, helps reinforce Ariel’s own belief that anything is possible. The film’s title was inspired by James’ trademark catchphrase, “Different is the new normal.”
Today, as a Youth Ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association, Ariel has addressed members of Congress and he visits local schools to increase awareness about the disorder that affects him and so many others who are living with Tourette’s.
If you want to watch this amazing film, click here. It’s just shy of an hour long, but worth the watch. Set the laptop up in front of the couch, cozy up with your kids and learn how to help make change. It’s worth it!